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Island Discovery on a Jan Mayen Cruise

Jan Mayen is a tiny volcanic island in the North Atlantic Ocean, 600 miles west of Norway and 350 miles north of Iceland. It is dominated by the 7,470-foot-high Mt. Beerenberg, the northernmost active volcano in the world, which last erupted in 1985. It is a territory of Norway, and has no native population. The eighteen people who currently live there operate the weather station, LORAN-C transmitter, and coastal radio station. Their base is called Olonkin City, which is located on the southwest coast. Small planes come in several times throughout the year, landing on the unpaved airstrip to bring supplies to the station personnel.

For many years no one was allowed to visit the island, but recently the tiny island has become available to tourists and a Jan Mayen cruise has found growing interest. As it is a territory of Norway, visitors need a passport to set foot on the island, and must keep in mind a few basic rules. As the environment is extremely fragile, no souvenirs—in the form of flowers, moss, or fungi—may be gathered. Permission to climb Beerenberg while on a tour of Jan Mayen must be requested from the Station Commander, as the glaciers are dangerous and often deeply crevassed.

Travelers on a Jan Mayen cruise will be in awe of the austere landscape—from the majestic slopes of Beerenberg to the curving, rocky coasts. In the summer, bright green moss spreads in a blanket across the land, and small wildflowers, lichens, and fungi also attract the eye. Jan Mayen is home to many birds, from the albatross-like fulmar to the black-and-white puffin. Harper seals and various species of whale can also be seen swimming in the chilly waters.

Some of the personnel who live on Jan Mayen have websites full of pictures and stories of life on the island. Vidar Tiegen’s, with many lovely pictures, is one of them: http://home.online.no/~vteigen/index_e.html

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